Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Successful Family Feast Tips: Provide Hats and Alcohol


In honor of the American Thanksgiving celebrations, I thought today we’d take a look at a feast painting.  After a search for large images of feast paintings revealed first John the Baptist’s head on a platter, and next a bunch of animals feasting on raw rabbit hearts, I decided that despite not being specifically Thanksgiving-related, this image would do.


“The Bean Feast,” by 17th century Dutch painter Jan Steen, shows a rollicking party indeed.   


You know things are wild when small children are standing on the table and a nun is helping them drink up.  Chug, chug, chug!


Behind them, some of the family is having an impromptu Funny Hat Party.  The child is literally a basketcase, and a man appears to be auditioning for the role of the Tin Man while beating a griddle with a spoon in a fit of hysteria.  The third man just seems to be desperately sipping from a straw; I assume he’s got a keg of hard cider back there.


Here is the crazy uncle of the gathering.  He is mixing something in a jar, and based on his expression I am willing to bet it is not the gravy.  Or if it is, it undoubtedly has some special ingredients.  I am not sure what the story is with his hat, but it looks a bit like a feathered squid died while devouring the side of his head.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

15 comments:

  1. How tactful of you to say nothing about the lady reclining on a chair. The message from her body language seems to be: "I've swallowed a jug of ale and am ready to have my boobies nuzzled if you're interested".

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    1. One tankard-related enjoyment has been sated; let the nuzzling commence. I'm sure the Crazy Uncle will oblige.

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  2. An early Mcdonald's alongside the Dutcher equivalent of the Great North Road mayhap? The demographic appears not dissimilar, and I notice that the serving wench to the rear middle is about to dump a plate of steaming soggy-nosh on the head of the chap in black.

    Given the current universal McCarthyesque social-trend/political-knife-fight I must also wonder if perhaps the nun is saying "Get it down your neck, dearie, and then I'll take you into the back room to the priest" ...

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    1. Well, the child behind the one drinking up looks ready to help the latter remove his coat. Maybe it's a friendly game of drinking strip-Candy Land.

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  3. The only mammal in the painting not drunk is the dog in the foreground. A nun is feeding a child booze. A nun. What up with that? (That's all I can manage.) Do these painters not have friends who look at the work in progress and ask, "Hey, hey Jan, Steenie? Steenster? I don't want to question your art but, uh, why is a nun feeding a child booze? A priest, I understand, but a nun?"

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    1. I did notice the remarkably sober dog there. It looks a bit disdainful of the drunken debauchery going on around it. Maybe it is the designated driver.

      And I really hope that somebody in the painter's life called him "Steenster."

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  4. Nuns are ALWAYS trying to get me drunk. I'm so glad it's not just me...

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    1. Yeah, they make a habit of it. (Badum-tssh.)

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  5. Weee now I'm feeling suddenly festive
    Surprising it was a nun and not a priest corrupting the youth.
    I'm curious, "bean feast"? Were they eating beans? I'm not sure I'd want to be in a small space with a bunch of drunks eating plates of beans.

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    1. Apparently the feast involves a cake with one bean in it, and whoever finds the bean is king for the day. Which is presumably why the small child is getting to booze up courtesy of the nun...

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  6. Really, Mr Ninja, your interpretation of fine art, although occasionally rather droll often misses the point entirely. Before Water Melons were brought over from the Americas (leading to the creation of Vodka Melons) Mead Brain Parties were rather fashionable. Rather than waste consumptive children, they were fed alcohol. The Third Man you refer to has his straw lodged in the child's ear.

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    1. You clearly have a keen eye, Mr. Hippo. However, recall that the Mead Brain practice was rarely used on children over the age of 4 or 5 due to the poisonous sociopath hormones that become particularly manifest around that time. The older child in question is wearing the basket to deflect would-be brain sippers who have already had a few, such as the gentleman with the straw behind him.

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    2. Minheer Ninja,

      I joined your site in order to fill a void in my knowledge of fine art so I stand corrected.

      This must be, therefore, rather a significant work of art depicting as it does the last of the Brain Parties before Tupperware and Ann Summers cornered the market for home entertainment of this sort. Note how the older boy and the Nun are colluding to ensure the younger urchin imbibes sufficient alcohol to acquire the correct percentage ABV (alcohol by volume, I am sure you knew) for a brain of his size. While the young lad is distracted by the nun pouring mead down his neck, the older boy, candelabra ready to hand, is lifting the coat tails of the trouserless little tyke. The sudden insertion of a candle and the subsequent involuntary inhalation was always good for an extra half glass of mead.

      And there was I under the misapprehension that this practice died out in Europe with the departure of the Mayflower. Dodgy hormones, who would have thought… You just don’t get this stuff on Wikipedia.

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  7. [this will be the third time i've tried to leave a message.  not familiar with this blog format.  so if i show up in triplicate, i apologize in advance.]

    is that possibly a rommel pot that the funky uncle is brandishing?

    the way he is holding it and the position of the shaft (or spoon) certainly looks like it might be that.

    i don't know if the age and/or distribution of rommel pots, as far as we know, would allow for that possibility.  also, i realize we think rommel pots were children's entertainment, but maybe they also showed up in hijinks parties.

    maybe.

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    1. I'm sorry for the issues you have had with posting here! I only got notification of two messages, so I am not sure what happened to the third.

      The funky uncle is definitely holding a rommel pot - the painting is even used as an example of it here: http://www.essentialvermeer.com/folk_music/rommelpot.html
      And really, what better instrument for a creepy man at a feast than a pig-bladder drum?

      I'm afraid I take a fair bit of poetic licence in interpreting things with purely visual observations sometimes, so my apologies for any frustration with inaccurate or incomplete analyses.

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